Time-Card-iStock_000016412520XSmall.jpgIn a recent blog post, Wage and Hour Administrator David Weil tries to underplay employer concerns about the new overtime exemption rules, including worries about the difficulty of tracking time for employees who are not used to recording their hours, stating:

There’s no requirement that employees “punch in” and “punch out.” Employers have flexibility in designing systems to make sure appropriate records are kept to track the number of hours worked each day.

And in the DOL’s information sheets for higher education institutions and non-profit organizations (.pdfs) regarding the new rules, the Department suggests two alternatives to the traditional punch clock setup:

o For employees who work a fixed schedule that rarely varies, the employer may simply keep a record of the schedule and indicate the number of hours the worker actually worked only when the worker varies from the schedule.

o For an employee with a flexible schedule, an employer does not need to require an employee to sign in each time she starts and stops work. The employer must keep an accurate record of the number of daily hours worked by the employee. So an employer could allow an employee to just provide the total number of hours she worked each day, including the number of overtime hours, by the end of each pay period.

The Department is of course correct that either of these methods – the “payroll by exception” approach or the peroding time sheet – can be a permissible method of tracking employee time. The FLSA regulations don’t mandate any particular method of tracking employee time. They require only that the record be accurate. But it’s this mandate for accuracy that makes payroll by exception and time sheets a potentially dangerous way to approach timekeeping under the FLSA.


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When sexual harassment lawsuits started becoming a major liability issue for employers, many employers sensibly responded by requiring their supervisory employees to go through mandatory anti-harassment training. There is at least some data to suggest that training and other preventive measures have done some good. For example, statistics published on the EEOC’s website (here and here) show a more-or-less steady decline in the number of harassment charges filed with the agency each fiscal year, from a high of 15,889 charges in FY1997 to just 6,822 charges in FY2015.

If sexual harassment lawsuits were the hot topic in employment law a decade or two ago, today it’s wage and hour law. Why? Wage and hour violations don’t require proof of motive or intent. They are easier for plaintiffs to prove, and harder for employers to defend against. The amounts due are often fairly easy to calculate or estimate, and wage and hour violations frequently affect entire classes of employees rather than just individuals. And, unfortunately, the law is deceptively complicated, leading to frequent screw-ups by even well-intentioned employers.


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Close up of lights on police carIf a tree falls in the forest but there is no one around to hear, does it make a sound? If a non-exempt worker answers an e-mail message after hours on her Blackberry but fails to put in for overtime, has she performed compensable work? While I’m not aware of any firm legal authority on the first question, a recent ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois offers a detailed and instructive analysis of the second. 

In Allen v. City of Chicago, a group of 51 of current and former officers in the Chicago Police Department’s Bureau of Organized Crime (“BOC”)  alleged that the City willfully violated the FLSA by requiring them to use their Blackberry devices for work-related communications while they were off duty without compensation. 


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BankBuilding.XSmall.jpgThe Seventh Circuit recently applied the Supreme Court’s Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes decision to class certification in a wage and hour action, and affirmed the certification of two classes.  Ross v. RBS Citizens N.A. d/b/a Charter One.  The Seventh Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in certifying two

Call center operatorLast week, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a settlement with Hilton Reservations Worldwide, LLC, in which the company agreed to pay $715,507 in minimum wages and overtime pay to 2,645 current and former customer service employees in Texas, Florida, Illinois and Pennsylvania. The DOL determined after an audit that the company failed to pay

airplane15895164.jpgIn this economy, we continue to see lay-offs and slow growth in hiring.  As a result, more employees are being asked to take on additional responsibilities and assignments.  These circumstances, coupled with the fact that some employers are properly re-classifying certain jobs as non-exempt, have led to an increase in work-related travel for non-exempt employees. 

Man with laptop working lateHas something like this ever happened in your organization? You have a solid non-exempt employee working hard on a project. His supervisor is out of town and unreachable. In the supervisor’s absence, to get the job done, he works a few hours of overtime. When the supervisor gets back, he asks if she will approve